It’s a beautiful dessert that has made quite a comeback in recent years. Torta Della Nonna, (Grandmother’s Cake) Is a classic treat typical of the Tuscan region of Italy where it originated, and is now loved and appreciated all over the world. This rich cake is made of a sweet pastry dough cake on top and bottom, and filled with a lightly lemon-zested pastry cream in the middle. Pine nuts and a light shower of powdered sugar adds an elegant finish to this Italian favorite. Would you like to make it for your Nonna sometime soon?
If you’re from Detroit, I hope this column brings you many happy and delicious memories! If you know someone from that area, just ask them about the iconic, fun and fabulous-tasting Bumpy Cake and then sit back and watch them smile. Once you’ve heard of Sanders Bumpy Cake, you may become as obsessed as I am over this decadent chocolate cake with white icing “speed bumps” piped along the top and then covered in a rich and creamy pourable chocolate ganache. Think Hostess Cupcakes, only much more fun and just as tasty. Sanders Bumpy Cake has been around since 1875. Ask anyone from Detroit and they will tell you that this is the go to cake often purchased for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. So get the electric mixer out, and see why this is the ultimate treat for Michiganders, and have a blast going over the speed bumps!
It was the 1920’s. The place, Chicago, Illinois. Francois and Antoinette Pope made they mark on the culinary scene first with the Antoinette Pope School of Fancy Cookery. Then came the television show hosted by the couple. Finally, their cookbook, The Antoinette Pope School Cookbook. I would never have known about any of this had one of the Pope family members not presented me with a copy of the cookbook. The more I read about the Pope’s, (on line there are even blogs about the cooking duo with comments by the many people who graduated from their school or who have called the cookbook their “go-to” cooking bible), the more fascinated I became with their story. The Crunchy Top Butter Cake is one of the many delightful recipes from an American heritage cookbook that elevated the art of cooking to “Fancy Cookery.”
I walked into my cooking class this week knowing full well what I was up against. I was teaching the art, science… and frustration of making macarons. I knew the class would be divided. Half of my students would want to learn how to make these tricky little treats. The other half are here because they have attempted to make macarons and failed miserable. The pressure was on. The first thing I tell the group is that, no matter how much You Tube tutorials, Instagram posts or Tik Tok videos tout a “no-fail” macaron recipe, do not believe it. No such thing. The only way to make a “no fail” macaron is practice. With practice you will learn all the things that can sabotage macarons; your oven, the temperature and humidity outside, the way you fold the egg whites into the almond flour ingredients and how you pipe the batter onto a baking sheet. Having said that, if you’re willing to take a little time and don’t get flustered if the first batch or two don’t turn out perfectly, you may get as addicted to making macarons as I am! I’ve also included a delicious strawberry filling for your French delights.
If you want to bake up a scrumptious Snickerdoodle cookie with that classic soft and chewy texture, there are a couple of tips to get you the best results. First, don’t skimp on the cream of tartar. That’s what gives the Snickerdoodle that twist of tanginess. (If you don’t have it, go buy a nice fresh bottle. You may be making these a lot!) Next, whisking the butter and sugar together for a long time is important because it whips air into the cookie dough, which helps make them soft and chewy. So whisk for at least 5 minutes until light and super fluffy. (Christina Tosi, cookbook author and owner of the award-winning Milk Bar Bakery says that under-whisking the butter and sugar is the biggest mistake home cooks make.) Then, don’t over bake the cookies. You want that chewy center. Finally, roll the dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture twice. The topping here is just as important as the batter. So now, go gather up your room temperature butter, eggs and the rest of the ingredients, because, a day without a Snickerdoodle is just plain crummy!
Passion, romance or chocolate. Which do you prefer for Valentine’s Day? It’s not that we don’t love Love. But dang it if chocolate doesn’t steal the ol’ heart, right? So just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m featuring an iconic dessert that actually put the Bundt Cake on the culinary map. It was 1966 at the 17th Annual Pillsbury Bake Off Content. She wasn’t even the first place winner, but Ella Rita Helfrich set the world on molten chocolate fire with her second place winning Tunnel of Fudge Cake. Up until Ella pulled her cake out of the oven, the Nordic Ware company was not having great success with their unusual invention, the Bundt Pan. In fact, they were about to discontinue the line due to lack of sales. What a difference one day and one cake can make! The recipe was such a smash hit nationwide, that the company had to make 30 thousand pans a day just to keep up with the demand! So this fudgy cake is not just a lavish, chocolately gooey-centered yummy work of art, but it was actually responsible for the whole Bundt Pan craze! The cake itself proved just as popular as the pan. But then! Pillsbury discontinued the crucial ingredient to the cake’s success, Double Dutch Frosting Mix, and angry fans of the cake deluged the company with complaints, prompting Pillsbury to adapt the recipe, replacing the frosting mix with cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar. Ella won $5,000 for her creation, but its unique mysterious chocolate tunnel, brownie-like consistency and silken chocolate topping makes is worth a million bucks which, incidentally, is what the winner takes home today! So, again, let me ask you. Passion, romance or chocolate? Read on!